Not all assets can be distributed in a will
There are some assets that a person may benefit from or control however may not ‘own’ in context of their will (Marie Brownell, National Manager of Estate Planning for Equity Trustees, AFR article by Duncan Hughes, Date). Which is why asking the right questions first as a key part of Estate Planning is critical in reducing the chances of family disputes, or problems that result in a lengthy delay in administering it. One of the key questions to consider when considering estate assets is changes to family circumstances. For example, a recent separation or divorce where jointly owned assets need to be split and all documentation, accounts etc updated to reflect the new position.
Some of the assets that may be included in a will but not be deemed ‘owned’ and therefore able to be given away include:
- Assets held in Trust - many people are not aware that the trustee is the decision maker when it comes to distribution of the trust.
- Real Estate - If the property is held as a joint tenancy ownership will automatically transfer to the surviving person. • Life Insurance – proceeds from life insurance are dependent on who is insured, who owns the policy, and whether a beneficiary has been nominated to receive the benefits directly.
- Bank Accounts – a joint bank account will automatically transfer to the surviving person.
- Shares – again, if jointly owned, the relevant share registry will transfer the shares into the name of the surviving holder.